Week 15 NFL injuries: Spencer Ware doubtful, Melvin Gordon and Tyreek Hill questionable for Thursday
Plus more on the Wednesday injury reports for every team's Week 15 matchup
The Chargers head to Kansas City to face the Chiefs in a game that means everything in the AFC West and the race for home-field advantage in the conference, but both sides are dealing with unsure depth charts on offense due to injuries.
The Chiefs have ruled out Sammy Watkins as he continues to deal with a foot issue, but Tyreek Hill is also questionable with heel and wrist injuries after a pair of limited practices on Tuesday and Wednesday. If Hill can't go, the team would be forced to use Chris Conley as its No. 1 receiver, with Demarcus Robinson and Gehrig Dieter behind him and what would likely be a limited amount of snaps from the recently signed Kelvin Benjamin. The passing game would presumably funnel through Travis Kelce, but having Hill for this critical game would give the Chiefs an added dimension to the passing attack they otherwise wouldn't have.
The Chiefs are also dealing with issues at running back, where Spencer Ware is unlikely to play due to shoulder and hamstring injuries. That means the rushing offense falls on a combination of Damien Williams, who has averaged just 3.3 yards on his 16 carries; Darrel Williams, who only has one offensive touch in three games; and Charcandrick West, who was signed last week and made inactive for his first game with the Chiefs. Patrick Mahomes is going to have a tough task on his hands considering how limited the options could be around him for this matchup.
The Chargers had a positive development with their final injury report on Wednesday, as Melvin Gordon was deemed questionable for this week after returning to a limited practice on Tuesday. Gordon has scored nine rushing TDs and averaged 5.2 yards per carry this season, so his production has sorely been missed during his two-week absence. If he's available, the team wouldn't have to solely lean on Justin Jackson and Detrez Newsome in the running game. Austin Ekeler, however, has been ruled out with a concussion and neck injury.
We'll break down all the injuries you need to know about for the Thursday game below before digging in to each team playing on Sunday's initial injury report for Week 15. Check back with us throughout the day as we react to all the injury news around the NFL.
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Chargers at Chiefs (-3.5)
- Chargers: RB Austin Ekeler (neck, concussion), TE Sean Culkin (back), CB Trevor Williams (knee) OUT; DT Brandon Mebane (NIR) DOUBTFUL; RB Melvin Gordon (knee) QUESTIONABLE
- Chiefs: WR Sammy Watkins (foot) OUT; RB Spencer Ware (shoulder, hamstring), G Cam Erving (knee) DOUBTFUL; WR Tyreek Hill (heel, wrist), S Eric Berry (heel) QUESTIONABLE
The big news for the Chargers is that Melvin Gordon has a chance of returning this week after being back at practice in a limited fashion on Tuesday. That means the Chargers could have their No. 1 running back for a matchup against a defense that ranks worst in the league in terms of rush DVOA. With Ekeler out, that leaves Justin Jackson for No. 2 duties, or as the lead back if Gordon ends up being inactive.
The Chiefs are dealing with a plethora of injury concerns. Hill was limited on Tuesday and Wednesday, and with Watkins out again, the Chiefs' passing offense could be without their top two pass-catchers at the position. That would leave Travis Kelce as the clear No. 1 option in the passing game, with Chris Conley and Demarcus Robinson as the top two receivers along with the recently signed Kelvin Benjamin, who likely isn't ready for a full workload. Though, they might not have to rely on that worst-case scenario, as ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Hill is expected to play.
With Ware also likely to miss the game, the Chiefs are down to their third starting running back of the season. That figures to be Damien Williams, but the team also recently signed Charcandrick West and has Darrel Williams on the depth chart as well. It's not all bad news for the Chiefs though, as star safety Eric Berry is expected to make his season debut.
This game could wind up deciding the AFC West and has massive ramifications for who gets home-field advantage in the AFC. You can see all the action by streaming the game on fuboTV (Try for free).
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Wednesday's injury reports
The Texans had no players miss practice for a second straight day on Wednesday, with DeAndre Hopkins (foot), Keke Coutee (hamstring) and J.J. Watt (knee) among the players limited both days. Houston should be at or close to full strength this week. The Jets have four players that missed the first two practices of the week, including Isaiah Crowell (toe) and Quincy Enunwa (ankle). Elijah McGuire (ankle) and Trenton Cannon (toe) were both upgraded to limited on Wednesday.
Denzel Ward (concussion), JC Tretter (ankle) and Austin Corbett (foot) have yet to practice this week, putting their status in doubt for Saturday. Larry Ogunjobi (bicep) was upgraded to a limited practice on Wednesday. For the Broncos, four players remained sidelined at Wednesday's practice, including Derek Wolfe (concussion), but Courtland Sutton (hip) was upgraded to a limited session, improving his chances of featuring in a beat-up Broncos receiving corps.
Twelve names are on the Dolphins' injury report to begin the week, but Xavien Howard (knee) and Danny Amendola (knee) were the only two to miss practice completely. Ryan Tannehill (shoulder, ankle), Kenyan Drake (shoulder) and DeVante Parker (shoulder) were among the limited participants on Wednesday. The Vikings only had Chad Beebe (hamstring) as a DNP to start the week, though six other players were limited, including Eric Kendricks (rub), Sheldon Richardson (hip) and Trae Waynes (concussion). Adam Thielen (ankle) and Xavier Rhodes (hip) practiced in full and should be good to go.
The Raiders were missing two offensive linemen at practice on Wednesday, with Gabe Jackson (elbow, ankle) and Kelechi Osemele (toe) sitting out. Five Raiders were limited to start the week, including another offensive lineman in Rodney Hudson. The Bengals began the week without Vontaze Burfict (concussion), Michael Johnson (concussion) and Dre Kirkpatrick (ankle) at practice, so they could be shorthanded on defense yet again with the Raiders coming to town. Jeff Driskel is on the injury report with a shoulder injury but practiced in full.
DeSean Jackson (thumb) is still sidelined for the Bucs to start the week heading into a difficult matchup in Baltimore. He and two safeties were the three DNPs for the Bucs on Wednesday, while Jason Pierre-Paul (knee, hip) and Gerald McCoy (ankle, shoulder) were limited. The secondary is the key issue for the Ravens this week, with Marlon Humphrey (groin), Tavon Young (groin) and Tony Jefferson (ankle) all missing practice on Wednesday. Lamar Jackson is on the injury report with an ankle issue, but both he and returning backup Joe Flacco (hip) practiced in full and should be good to go.
Ezekiel Elliott sat out practice to begin the week due to a shoulder injury, but he isn't in danger of missing this matchup at this point. He was joined on the shelf by Zack Martin (knee), David Irving (ankle) and Geoff Swaim (wrist). Tyron Smith (neck) and Sean Lee (hamstring) were limited participants on Wednesday. The Colts had three offensive players back at practice on Wednesday, with Dontrelle Inman (shoulder) practicing in full and Ryan Kelly (knee) and Mo Alie-Cox (calf) limited. But four players sat out due to injury, including T.Y. Hilton, who picked up an ankle injury this week.
The Lions had five players missing from practice to start the week, with Kerryon Johnson (knee) still sidelined and joined by right tackle Rick Wagner (concussion), among others. Six other players were limited, including left tackle Taylor Decker (shoulder) and Matthew Stafford (back). LeSean McCoy pulled his hamstring in the team's loss to the Jets and sat out practice on Wednesday, and it wouldn't be surprising to see him sit the final three weeks with the Bills playing for nothing but pride. Potential replacement starter Chris Ivory (shoulder) practiced in full, while Stephen Hauschka (hip) was another DNP on Wednesday.
Three Packers players sat out on Wednesday due to injury: Jimmy Graham (knee, thumb), Bryan Bulaga (knee) and Kenny Clark (elbow). Graham figures to keep playing through his injury issues, but he hasn't topped 50 yards or scored a touchdown in any of his last five games. Bulaga was ruled doubtful last week before missing his first game of the year, and his absence would be brutal in a matchup against the league's best defense. Randall Cobb (hamstring) and Clay Matthews (ankle) were both limited for the Packers. The Bears placed corner Bryce Callahan on injured reserve this week, but aside from that, the only player on their injury report to begin the week is Allen Robinson, who missed practice with a hip issue.
The Titans had two players miss practice due to injury on Wednesday, with Brian Orakpo nursing an elbow injury and David Fluellen (knee) still banged up. With one tackle going to IR this week in Jack Conklin, the Titans also had Taylor Lewan (shoulder) among the players limited to start the week. The Giants have a pretty light injury report at this point, with one player each a DNP, limited and full participant. The limited player is the one you need to know about, as Odell Beckham (quad) appears to be on track to return for this week after participating to some degree on Wednesday.
In addition to their players on injured reserve, the Redskins have 14 names on the injury report this week, with half of them missing practice completely. That list includes Josh Doctson (concussion) and Jordan Reed (ankle, foot). Adrian Peterson (shoulder) was among the limited participants to start the week, as was Jamison Crowder (ankle) and starting tackles Trent Williams (thumb, wrist) and Morgan Moses (ankle). The Jaguars were missing three players at practice to start the week, including offensive lineman Jermey Parnell (knee) and linebacker Leon Jacobs (quad). Another offensive lineman, Josh Walker (ankle), practiced in full, so the Jaguars may be able to go back to him at left tackle over Ereck Flowers if they want to for this game.
David Johnson sat out practice on Wednesday with a quad injury, but it's possible it was just a maintenance day for the running back. If he's active on Sunday, he gets a tasty matchup with an awful Falcons rush defense. Chad Williams (hamstring) and Budda Baker (knee) were also DNPs, while Deone Bucannon (chest) was limited. Julio Jones (foot, calf) and Austin Hooper (knee, ankle) were among the Falcons' four DNPs on Wednesday, with Ito Smith (neck) and Deion Jones (foot) among the four limited participants.
The Seahawks had a whopping eight players miss Wednesday's practice due to injury, including Doug Baldwin (hip), D.J. Fluker (hamstring), K.J. Wright (knee) and Bradley McDougald (knee). Frank Clark (elbow) and Jarran Reed (oblique) were also limited, so Seattle could be dealing with an extremely banged-up D-line coming out of Monday's win. The 49ers started the week with four players out of practice due to injury, but all were on the defensive side of the ball. That means Matt Breida (ankle) was able to practice, albeit as a limited participant. That bodes well for his availability in this matchup. Four other players were limited for San Francisco as well, including offensive linemen Weston Richburg (knee) and Laken Tomlinson (hip).
Both Ben Roethlisberger (rib) and James Conner (ankle) sat out the first practice of the week due to injury, but coach Mike Tomlin spoke on Wednesday as if Roethlisberger would be a go for this big game. Conner's availability for Sunday will likely depend on how much he can practice during the week and how healthy he looks on Friday. The Patriots didn't have any players missing practice or limited.
Six Eagles missed practice due to injury on Wednesday, including key defenders such as Jordan Hicks (calf), Michael Bennett (foot), Tim Jernigan (back) and Sidney Jones (back). Carson Wentz also didn't practice due to a back issue that is in this game. The Rams have zero players on the injury report, not even players dealing with a minor issue and listed as full participants.
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